Beyoncé. Drake. Kanye West. Future. Rihanna. Frank Ocean. That's just a sampling of some of the artists who have released albums in 2016 exclusively to either Apple Music or Tidal. The streaming service's desire to grow their user base through exclusive content deals has been a boon for a talented group of artists who can once again get great value for their creations. These artists are now making money directly off music like it's 1999.
Apple Music and Tidal have both grown in notoriety and increased subscriber totals as a result of these deals. Both have also shelled out production costs for music videos and live shows. The artists are making more money and the music labels are paying out less overhead. But everyone isn't happy.
Streaming services could turn into de facto labels
Spotify, the service both Apple and Tidal are chasing, is against exclusives and has reportedly been making artists who release exclusive projects on competing services more difficult to find in search. Universal Music Group has banned exclusives on the heels of Frank Ocean ditching the label to release Blonde exclusively through Apple Music, all the while fears that streaming services could turn into de facto labels as their ubiquity and clout continue to grow.
And then there's the fans. While you could buy every one of those exclusive albums besides The Life of Pablo, everyone knows in 2016 people don't buy albums like they used to. Most people who use streaming services have Spotify — which just passed 39 million subscribers and has over 100 million total users — and that leaves a large chunk of fans out of the loop, at least for the first two weeks or so after a major album is released. But then again, not everyone cares about having new music first, and exclusives are a way for artists to get paid for their content in a piracy age, without charging fans more money.
So where do you stand? Do you think exclusives are good for everyone, or do they hinder your listening experience? Or is it a necessary evil as streaming services establish a foothold in the music industry?